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Wild Turkey Beaks

This Turkey Tuesday is about an overlooked part of wild turkeys that symbolizes their adaptability – their beaks. Beaks have a core that is bone, and that core is covered in keratin which gets hard and durable. The layers of keratin wear, so they’re constantly developing and being replaced, which keeps the beak strong while also ensuring that it is glossy. Wild turkeys have what in the bird world is considered a pretty straight and generic beak. This type of beak tells you that wild turkeys are omnivores, and are capable of eating many types of food. The tom in this picture exemplifies how adaptable wild turkeys are when it comes to getting food, and how they use their beaks to eat many, many items – this tom’s beak is stained with manure! If you’ve ever spent time in areas with livestock production and wild turkeys, you’ve likely seen them flipping dried manure and picking waste grains from it. This behavior lends itself to many puns, but it just goes to show you that turkeys will make things work to obtain food. Regardless, beaks are also used for aggression and defense, as turkeys will head peck during fights and defend themselves against predators using that beak. The take home is, beaks have evolved to provide wild turkeys with a tool and weapon that is critical to their survival.

© Tes Randle Jolly

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